SENDIAS - Resolving Disagreements

You may disagree with something to do with your child's special educational provision, most of the time this can be sorted out by talking with the either the early years setting, school, college or local authority - this is often referred to as Dispute Resolution.

It can sometimes be difficult to reach agreement, therefore if you're not happy about the support your child or young person with SEND receives, you can challenge it.

Most issues can be sorted amicably by talking to:

  • your child's educational setting
  • the SEN team in Doncaster council

If you still can't sort the issues, using disagreement resolution or mediation can help. Both these services are FREE and available to parents of children with special educational needs and to young people with special educational needs. 

Disagreement resolution

A Disagreement resolution tries to resolve disagreements in a quick and informal way. The process is voluntary and has to be agreed by all parties.  

Some of the ways that disagreement resolution can be used are:

  • How a setting or the local authority are carrying out either their education, health and care duties for children and young people with special educational needs. 
  • Provision that is being delivered by a setting.
  • Discuss decisions made my the local authority such as not to issue an EHC plan or amendments made to an existing EHC plan 

Requirements for the Local Authority SEN Team 

The following outlines the requirements LA SEND teams must follow:
  • Notify a parent/young person of a decision not to issue an EHC plan
  • Send a final version of an EHC plan to a parent/young person
  • Send an amended version of an EHC plan to a parent/young person
  • Notify a parent/young person of a decision not to carry out a re-assessment where an EHC plan already exists
  • Notify a parent/young person of a decision not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment notify a parent/young person of a decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan

LAs must include information on the right to appeal in their Local Offers (see Schedule 2 to the The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014.

Taking into consideration the above requirements, local authorities should ensure their local systems, policies and procedures are up-to-date and compliant. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Ensuring decision letters include the relevant information about the Tribunal extended appeals and the rights parents and young people have, including the availability of information, advice and support services (IASS)
  • Ensuring Local Offers include co-produced information about the Tribunal extended appeals
  • Ensuring SENDIAS can provide parents and young people with information and guidance about their rights
  • Training staff and disseminating key information and guidance to those involved in the process, including high level training to ensure that those responsible for decisions are fully aware of the legal duties when making decisions


When a local authority issue a decision letter or send a final EHC plan or a final amended plan, they must tell the parent or young person that they can go to mediation to appeal. Mediation is a voluntary process for parents and young people. the service is used if agreement cannot be reached for sections within an EHC plan. The Mediation is conducted by a trained and accredited mediator who is independent of the local authority.  

Mediation is available if there is a disagreement about:  

  • Carrying out an EHC needs assessment 
  • Drawing up an EHC plan following a EHC needs assessment
  • Parts within a EHC plan that describe the child or young  person's special educational needs
  • Not to amending an EHC plan after an annual review 
  • Cease to maintain an EHC plan.
  • Special educational provision set out in the EHC plan
  • Health and social care elements of an EHC plan.

To request mediation you must send the request within 2 months of the date on the letter received from the local authority with their decision.

If a local authority agree to make certain steps within the mediation but fail to do so this can be challenged at Judicial Review.

You can find more information about mediation on the IPSEA website

SEND Tribunal 

If a mediation agreement is not reached then parents and young people can also register an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal about the matters listed above. This is an independent first-tier tribunal who hear parents or the young persons appeal against the decisions made by the local authority in relation to special educational needs.

To request an appeal you must first have your mediation certificate which you would received following mediation, the certificate shows that a decision was not reached. There are some circumstances in which you do not need to have a certificate from a mediation adviser before you register an appeal with the SEND Tribunal. This is the case if the appeal is only about the name of the setting within Section I of the EHC plan. There are a number of steps you will need to take to prepare the case before the hearing that will help you achieve the best possible outcome. 

What Can You Appeal? 

As set out in Section 2 of the SEND tribunal: extended appeals guide, parents and young people can the appeal issues relating to:
  • A decision by the LA not to issue an EHC plan
  • A decision by the LA not to carry out a re-assessment for a child/young person who has an EHC plan
  • A decision by the LA not to amend an EHC plan following a review or reassessment
  • A decision by the LA to cease to maintain an EHC plan
  • (Section B) The description of the child/young person’s special educational needs in an EHC plan
  • (Section F) The special educational provision specified in an EHC plan
  • (Section I) The school or other educational institution named in an EHC plan
  • Health and Social Care needs and provisions specified in EHC plan

What Will You Need To Appeal?

To log an appeal you will require the following documents. Please remember that you will need to send these off with your request for appeal so keep them in a safe place. 
  • The decision letter from the local authority which came with the information that you are appealing
  • Mediation Certificate 
  • Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) 

If you are appealing against Section I (School Named) 

  • Consultations received by SEN from the schools consulted with

Registering an Appeal with the Tribunal 

Parents and young people have either:
  • One month to register a SEND appeal with the Tribunal from the date of a certificate which has been issued following mediation
  • Two months from the date when the LA sent the notice containing an appealable decision
whichever is the later.
In some cases, parents and young people will not register the appeal within the two-month limit. Where it is fair and just to do so the Tribunal has the power to use its discretion to accept appeals outside the two-month time limit.

Form to apply for Tribunal is on the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal forms - GOV.UK webpage 
  • Complete form 35 for Appeals against Section B,F, H and I 
  • Complete form 35a for appeals against not issuing an EHC Needs Assessment 

Once the appeal is registered the LA will be sent a copy of the papers filed and will be given a date by which they must respond and asked to provide details of witnesses – this will apply to all parties. The parties will also be told of the approximate hearing date.

SEND Tribunal: Extended Appeals Guide (Health and Social Care) 

The SEND tribunal: extended appeals guide explains the extended powers of the First-tier Tribunal Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) and their continued work to take into account health and social care issues. 

Overview of the Changes 
Parents and young people are able to appeal to the Tribunal about decisions concerning EHC needs assessments and plans. Prior to the National Trial, they were only able to appeal about the special educational needs and provision sections and the placement section of EHC plans.
The extended powers give parents and young people rights to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specified in EHC plans, in addition to the educational aspects, when making a SEND appeal.
The Tribunal’s extended powers to make non-binding recommendations on the health and social care aspects of EHC plans, give parents and young people the opportunity to raise all their concerns about an EHC plan in one place.
The policy aims of the extended powers remain as they were throughout the National Trial, i.e. to:
  • Create a more holistic, person-centred view of the child or young person’s needs at the Tribunal
  • Bring appeal rights in line with the wider remit of EHC plans
  • Encourage joint working between education, health and social care commissioners
  • Bring about positive benefits to children, young people and parents


You can find more information about Tribunal on the IPSEA website.

The IPSEA website has useful information and advice for all types of appeals.


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Last updated: 21 October 2021 15:17:56

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